The Australian Small Business Blog

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Online PR - It’s all in the headline


As technology speeds up, it’s only natural that small business will try and keep updated with the changes. Whilst many pursue networking and traditional marketing means, Public Relations (PR) remains slightly lagging behind.

A secret behind getting your PR media release (the primary tool of PR) noticed lies in the headline. In fact, a great headline is often the difference between having your business published once and having it published a thousand times – and this could be over a variety of mediums (internet, print media).

Yes, the content and the body of the media release still have to contain factual information and be worthwhile (and not just a tale of propaganda on behalf of the business owner). But if your headline fails to deliver, you’ve probably wasted your time. Look at newspaper headlines and the way they grab attention. The best article in the world will never get read if the headline is substandard.

As communication and marketing messages increase, it’s vital that articles and media release submissions have a good, strong headline. Whilst it’s important to picture the reader when writing, the real focus should be placed on the publisher. For example, when writing for web publication the below should be followed.

List your argument

Most websites are sales tools and are sitting there for a reason. It could be to sell, persuade or inform – but look closely and you’ll always find an angle to approach. Look for what the publisher wants, and make sure your headline lets him know.

Don’t embellish

Remember the facts – there is no need for self-promotion as you’ll end up getting the publisher off-side. A big stand-out headline may work in mainstream media, but on the net it’s a slightly different story. Don’t lead the publisher into a promise when it can’t be backed up. Keep the headline simple but effective. And remember, people generally scan pages of the internet.

Don’t stop at one headline

Put yourself in the publisher’s shoes. Try to list a few headlines and work back. If possible, sleep on it and see how the headline looks the following day. Always aim for around 20 headlines at first.

Think about the readers

Think about the publication’s readers and what they may require. Websites attract a diverse range of visitors, so it’s always best to research the language and style that they are using. Publishers want articles that are interesting and informative to their audience.

As the web provides small businesses with a change to market to thousands of prospects, using PR as an effective tool can have great rewards. The important thing to remember is getting past the on-line editor.

Stuart Evans is a professional copywriter, PR practitioner and freelance journalist. He runs Vibe Communications, a communication consultancy specialising in helping small to medium sized business.

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